In the wake of yesterday’s breaking news that the Bank of Panama has closed for 5 days for a Bank Holiday, we reached out to SD reader PK, an ex-pat living in Panama for a boots-on-the-ground report on the Bank Holiday.
PK reports that with BancoNational shut down for a 5 day bank holiday, Panamanians “are talking about nothing else except this bank holiday“, and states that while there is no massive panic yet in Panama, it is NOT NORMAL for the national bank to shut down for 5 days without warning on an end-of-the-month payday weekend.
PK’s full report on the BancoNational bank holiday is below:
Panama banking report. I just came back from town. It is 10:39 eastern standard time, we don’t use daylight savings here.
I went to my bank, MultiBank which was open and withdrew a large amount of money. No questions asked. All 20’s. I needed a big bag to walk out with this. There was only one person ahead of me in line. Monday, I will return and do the same thing. I also went to my other Bank, BancoGeneral, and withdrew 500 dollars from the machine. There was only one person ahead of me.
Apparently there is no panic here as of yet.
My wife went into a few tiendas just to get the feel of things. The wives are talking about nothing else except this bank holiday. BancoNational is the National bank. This is where all the pensioners etc do their business as this bank is where all pensions get deposited or at least the vast majority of them. On Payday, which is twice per month you would expect lines at the bank going out into the street and 2 police officers gaurding the chaos. Of course, the bank is closed for the next several days.
I didn’t notice anything unusual in town. The town is packed with people doing normal business buying food etc as this is the payday weekend. No panic. The bars are full now, very early with the men drinking beer which is normal very early in the morning. I did notice several men bringing in containers full of change so they could buy cheap beer.
So, there is a problem but no one is panicking yet.
I have zero trust in the system so I will be preparing and storing cash in the safe. I have preps also.
This incident is a harginger for the future that is for sure.
It is not normal for a bank to close down on payday weekend when people need to buy food if this is nothing more than a shutdown for administrative purposes. Count on that.
It is my guess that nothing is going to come of this banking holiday. It is a set up. Get the people used to it. Make it seem normal, like a power outage or a water outage. Then, when the big bank holiday needs to happen no one would be the wizer. There are a lot of banks in Panama. I think at least several hundred. Panama is a very important banking hub for the rich to hide money. This incident needs to be seen as a harbinger for future bailins.